A shamed Dartford doctor who had a steamy affair with a female patient has narrowly avoided being struck off after a panel ruled he was not a 'sexual predator'.

Dr Andrew Patrick Doyle, who worked at and was a partner, at The Orchard Practice in Tower Road was suspended on Tuesday for a maximum of 12 months after being found guilty of serious misconduct.

Doyle sent the woman, only known as Patient A, sex texts and even got her to read his erotic 'BDSM' novels to him and also handed the woman a knife and asked her to kill him.

The fitness to practice hearing heard he 'exchanged texts of a sexual and flirtatious nature with her at a time when she was heavily dependant on you for medication'.

The hearing, held by the Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service, also heard how Doyle had an 'improper emotional relationship' with Patient A and 'mis-prescribing' her drugs which put her 'at a risk of serious harm'.

Doyle admitted lending the patient money, buying her a shirt as a gift, kissing and cuddling her on one occasion, giving her lifts in his car and visiting her home on several occasions for non-clinical reasons.

The hearing heard that Patient A was a trained mental health nurse who worked in the Kent area and she described the relationship 'like a teacher and a pupil'.

Doyle told a disciplinary panel he ‘was racked with guilt and wanted to die’ after indulging in oral sex with the woman who died last year of breast cancer.

In a post-hearing report it stated that 'The Panel considers that your serious misconduct brought you within a hair's breadth of erasure'.

It also said: "The Panel has accepted that your risk of repeating any of the behaviour that gave rise to its findings of misconduct is extremely low.

"The relationship was non-violent, consensual and developed over a longer period of time as a friendship."

It was alleged Doyle embarked on a sexual relationship with the woman between September 2010 and August 2011.

This was denied by the GP and the MPTS ruled that such a relationship only occurred between May 2011 and August 2011.

The panel ruled that Doyle was a "good doctor" and the public interest would be best served by suspension.

Chairman Dr Surendra Kumar told the GP, who admitted being "out of his depth" with the patient: "The panel accepts that you are not a sexual predator, and that your insight and expressions of remorse indicate that you do not have a harmful, deep-seated personality or attitude problems.

"You have an awareness of the deplorable nature of your past behaviour."

Dr Doyle can appeal against the decision, although his suspension will remain in force until the outcome.